An American Highlander

Travels Through My Mind

Enforced Laziness February 27, 2012

Filed under: Getting to know me — charismaloy @ 5:16 pm

I have been noticing a disturbing trend in society and education lately. I suppose I am primarily disturbed because I see the trend being inforced in technology. It seems that nearly every major business from government on down has some sort of voice activated response system meant to expediate your calls and save you time. Not only does this eliminate jobs and minimize human contact, since most of these systems don’t offer the choice of speaking to a live person, but these systems are actually programmed to only understand lazy speech. I had the benefit of being homeschooled through elementary school and enunciation was drilled into me from an early age. When I get on these voice activated systems, I am forced to almost slur my words before the computer correctly identifies what I am saying. This is very frustrating and actually takes more of my time.

I have noticed the same trend in touch screen technology. I have a Nintendo DS and one of the games that I like playing is called Puzzle World. It has over 1000 different puzzles from Sudoku to crosswords and requires you to write the letters and numbers on the touch screen using a stylus. I found that the only way to get the game to recognize the symbols was to wirte them as lazily as I could. I nearly groaned as I realized that my handwriting on the game had to be similar to what a teacher would hand back and make me rewrite when I was in school.

I can always tell when I am texting with someone who either completed high school before texting became a common method of communication or has gone to college and furthered their education. These are the precious few whose texts I don’t have to translate because they use real words.  When I was in school, we were taught that your speech and handwriting say a great deal about your intelligence level and we strove to portray ourselves well in both of these avenues. I have seen some applications that were nearly illegible, the only reason that they could be remotely understood was because the applicant had filled it out almost entirely in text speech.

My child will be an outcast in the society in which she comes to maturity. She will learn to speak properly, and will know the value of a well written sentence. She will know what hard work means, and that there are consequences for her actions. As a society we have drifted away from these simple values in an effort to make a childs life pleasant and worryfree. By doing so we have robbed ourselves of an educated and ethical future generation. Our parents and grandparents knew these thing, and those of us who were lucky learned them from our elders. Can the next generation stumble across these values on their own and become who they need to be for society to move forward? Or will Ayn Rand be proven a prophet? Does Atlas need to shrug to shake some sense into the world? Will John Galt finally show his face? What can we do, we precious few who see the trends and worry?



Filed under: Getting to know me — charismaloy @ 1:31 pm

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”Oliver Wendell Holmes US author & physician (1809 – 1894)

Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed.” – Anne Rice, The Witching Hour

“The real power of books is their deep companion ability. We learn from them as we learn from the deep companion ability of love to know our own hearts and minds better.” – Jane Rule

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”- Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Harry S.Truman

Truly great people have been trying to get people to understand the power of a literature for years, yet illeteracy runs rampant. Often times I find that even those who know how to read have no passion for it. I myself will read the back of the toothpaste tube if I have to be in the bathroom for any length of time.

Bloggers are, by definition, literate and tend towards the love of the written word. Obviously, if a blog is remotely successful, it’s author has some skill as a writer. I have a proposition to make. I think that as bloggers we can find a cure to to worldwide epidemic of illiteracy.

Obviously, leaving this problem to governments is entirely ineffective, so BLOGGERS UNITE!

I see many different age and comprehension levels struggling with the written word, and nobody wants to admit that they can’t read. In fact many people will try to force themselves through a book that they see as at their AGE level instead of at their READING level.

My propsal is this, lets find a way to ride age appropriate stories at various reading levels. PIck an age, literally ANY age to target, and write a story that that age might find interesting, but keep to low reading level words. Keep in mind that large books will intimidate a new reader so try to minimize excess descriptions and such at lower reading levels. We want to build a hunger for the written word, not intimidate, so doing a series may be a good idea with each book getting slightly more complex.

Please! Share some ideas! If we fail to empower those around us, we leave all power in hands that don’t know us.


Palate Memories February 20, 2012

Filed under: Getting to know me — charismaloy @ 2:40 am

The mountains across the road are not visible today. Quite frankly, the road was not visible on much of my sixty mile drive to work. The snow has settled over us and promises to stay at least through the night. We are an insulated community this evening, enclosed as we are by the snowfall. It is a wet, spring snow, and therefore more dangerous as it cannot be trained to stay out of the roadways where it promptly turns to ice. Six mule deer took advantage of the fact that I was paying enough attention to stop for them and bounded across the road. the last one reminded me of reindeer as all four feet left the ground simultaneously in a joyful bound.

When the snow or rain insulates us like this I find myself craving comfort foods from my childhood. When I was a kid on the outskirts of Los Angeles, rainy days meant a communal stack of tuna fish sandwiches, cut on the diagonal and  individual mugs of piping hot tomato soup. The soup to sandwich ratio had to be just right so that the last piece of sandwich soaked up the last drop of soup. It was a wonderful thing.

I find that, as I think about the culinary delights of my youth, I enjoy a good many flavor combinations that are underapperciated by my adult friends. I suppose it is a matter of an untrained palate. I can make a peanut butter and pickle sandwich and share it with my goddaughter, but her mother looks at me as though I have lost my mind. Barbeques have always been interesting, and I always know when I have eaten enough hamburgers at any one friends house because my favorite fixings are out with all the regular ones. My mother was raised by her grandfather, who was raised in the midwest before the Great Depression. He got her hooked on hamburgers, served on wheat bread with mayonaisse on one side and creamy peanut butter on the other. Has to be creamy or it’s just not right. She in turn passed this ambrosia on to the children she fed when I was young. It works great when you replace the hamburger with hot dogs too, and is the only way I will eat a hot dog. I know when I see the jar of Jif next to the lettuce and tomatoes that I am loved.

Here’s an odd challange for you. Will you try my odd culinary favorites? Will you challange me with yours? Nothing fancy now, just a different twist on an ordinary dish. I am always up for a new flavor, so give me a new taste to sample, and try one of mine. Trust me I have more that sound even more disgusting but are remarkably tasty. I picked a tame one to share. Will you? Be sure to tell me what triggers your craving, that can be the most fun!


Creating a smile February 16, 2012

Filed under: Getting to know me — charismaloy @ 2:04 am

It is always a good feeling when you are struggling to make ends meet and still find yourself in a position to surprise and bless someone’s day. Sometimes it is a heartfelt smile for the overworked clerk at the grocers. Sometimes a supportive hug for a grieving stranger. Last night I had the opportunity to bless a young couple in my town.

This couple has three small children and the husband works with a road construction company. At this time of year, in the northern states, road construction crews are in the middle of their winter layoff. Last night was this couples 8th anniversary, and they were more concerned with household bills than they were with anniversary celebrations. My boss heard about the situation and decided that, though our small restaurant could not do much, we could help them to celebrate. One of our part time staff picked up their children and took them home for the evening. My boss and I dug out some cloth napkins and a bouquet  of fake roses and set them a private table. The young woman was surprised to find cloth napkins in so rural a place and was tickled that we went to the effort. Since they were our only customers at the time, the boss fed the jukebox and played love songs while they ate.

In an area as rural as ours, it is hard for a young couple to have a date night, with three small children, the difficulties increase. It warmed my heart to be a part of giving these to a couple of hours of “couple” time.

What made you feel all warm and gooey this week? If the answer is “nothing” then you might want to think about ways to create the warm gooies. Yup, making up words again!

Live fully. Laugh honestly. Love completely.